The White Book
From the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian
Both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang. Written while on a writer's residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours...more
"Why do old memories constantly drift to the surface?"
Because they never leave us. Because ...more
The starting point is a simple list of white things but the book is haunted by many darker undertones. I am not sure how much I understood but it felt profoundly human, spare and elegant, every word charged.
This is my second book from the Man Booker International longlist (I had already read Die, My Love and bought this one before it was announced).
I don't know what to make of this book.
It's elegant, in a minimalist, subdued kind of way.
The font size is minuscule, there's a lot of white space and empty pages.
There are some nice passages, but also a whole lot of simple, simplistic, and "I don't get the point" kind of writing - writing for the sake of writing, or better said, I was reading it and not getting much out of it, despite wanting to.
I don't know - it's one of those "concept books".
You definitely have to be in the right ki ...more
"제발 죽지마. 한 시간쯤 더 흘러 아기는 죽었다.
죽은 아기를 가슴에 품고 모로 누워 그 몸이 점점 싸늘해지는 걸 견뎠다.
더이상 눈물이 흐르지 않았다."
"For God's sake don't die. Around an hour later, the baby was dead.
They lay there on the kitchen floor, my mother on her side with the dead baby clutched to her chest, feeling the cold gradually enter into the flesh, sinking through to the bone.
No more crying. "
Chapter 5 of 한강 (Han Kang's) qu ...more
In the spring, when I decided to write about white things the first thing I did was to make a list....more
Swaddling bands. Newborn gown. Salt. Snow. Ice. Moon. Rice. Waves. Yulan. White bird. “Laughing Whitely”. Blank paper. White dog. White hair. Shroud.
With each item I wrote down, a ripple of agitation ran through me. I felt that yes, I needed to write this book, and that the process of writing it would be transformative, would itself transform, into something like white ointment applied to a swel
This one is a very special to me. The City she refers to in White Book, is my hometown, Warsaw.
The book at its core is a meditation on grief. Kang juxtaposes City surrounded by neverending grief after thousands of its inhabitants were killed during Warsaw uprising and herself grieving after a sister, who died two hours after birth.
Kang has been said to ...more
Partially this has do to my dislike for spare poetic meditations, but may also be due to ...more
"If you can come to us now, then do. Slip on those clothes that the fire has borne to you, like slipping on a pair of a wings. Drink it like medicine or tea, our silence, dissolving into smoke in place of words."
Written like that, with no context, you may wonder why the outpouring of emotion. But this is a meditation on the death of the (unnamed) narrator’s baby sister, born before ...more
If you've read The Vegetarian or Human Acts you'll know exactly what to expect from Kang's economical and unsentimenta ...more
While I read it as a novel, and not a memoir or a book of poems, it plays with that cross-pollination of genre. Some reviews have taken the details of Han Kang's life to take it as red that this is very much a memoir, but using d ...more
Three stars may seem low but this is by far my favourite book I've read by Han Kang. While I definitely admired Human Acts, something didn't quite come together. And I must admit The Vegetarian went right over my head, but on reflection I would be open to re-reading it at some point.
The White Book is quite a departure from the aforementioned books. Focusing on the colour white, the colour appears in different objects and memories, set to the backdrop of W ...more
De mooie beelden sporen wel aan om ander werk van Kang te gaan lezen.
Heel jammer dat deze vertaling op de Engelse vertaling is gebaseerd (en niet op het origineel) en dat de foto's uit de Koreaanse editie hier niet zijn opgenomen. De ...more
Refreshingly original and heart-achingly honest, it's hard to define or categorize The White Book. It rises above the need for plot or characters, becoming pure writing, distilled emotion, a kind of secular prayer. It deals with the complex emotions felt by the author regarding her elder sister, who died two hours after she was born. And that mourning process is anchored in the eth ...more
It covers a wide range of emotions and topics that captures the spectrum from life to death, feelings, humanity and more. I found it to be such a c ...more
“On nights when the moon is unusually large, she can leave the curtains open and let its light flood every inch of he ...more
This is a brief book with a number of blank pages and seven photographs. The narrator thinks about a sister she never knew (the sister died the day she was born). The narrator imagines her sister by thinking about white objects (snow, lace, paper, ice). The prose poems average about a half-page each, so the book is full of white spaces.
Two different comments: first on the book's images, then on its narrative.
1. The images
Terry Pitts has writte ...more
I realise that the white packaging, the ivory paper, the sparseness of the prose is conveying a message of its own. Places and people are nameless. This is a story about d ...more
I just found the black and white photos scattered here and there in the book too detached and not delicate enough. Even surgical.
In the distance, the surface of the water bulges
upwards. The winter sea mounts its approach, surging
I was expecting that it would be as magical and biting as The Vegetarian in terms of how the narrative would be constructed, but The White Book is quite different.
The White Book is written like a list with a series of entries and thoughts about them. Each entry bears the name of a thing that is white in colour and that Han Kang has associated with a particularly sad event. Why white? Prim ...more
Han Kang is the daughter of novelist Han Seung-won. She was born in Kwangju and at the age of 10, moved to Suyuri (which she speaks of affectionately in her work "Greek Lessons") in Seoul.
She studied Korean literature at Yonsei University. She began her writing career when one of her poems was featured in the winter issue of the quarterly Literature and Society. She made her official liter ...more
On cold mornings, that first white cloud of escaping breath is proof that we are living. Proof of our bodies’ warmth. Cold air rushes into dark lungs, soaks up the heat of our body and is exhaled as perceptible form, white flecked with grey. Our lives’ miraculous diffusion, out into the empty air.”